* Nineteen *
"Remember Eric, when we played in this forest, over thirteen years ago?" Amber Jackson asked as she and her brother sat on a bench that circled one of the countless variety of trees that grew in Round Forest sciences section of the three mile long extraterrestrial star ship from the planet Delindria.
"I remember." Eric Jackson said as he leaned back against the tree and thought back to those by gone days and nights, seventeen years ago. Nine years before their mother was killed on the planet Delindria.
"Mom was here, Amber." Eric said as he turned to face his sister.
"She'll always be here, Eric." Amber told him as she pointed to her heart while Davrina walked up with Rhea and Valdara.
"How's dad?" Amber asked as she stood to greet them in her security uniform.
"He's resting up in med-bay, Amber." Davrina said as she took a seat on the bench next to Eric.
"He's going to be alright." Rhea Warner added as she too sat on the bench and watched a mono tram whisk by on it's track, way up above the tops of the trees.
"Hey, here comes Summer Dawn." Amber said as she spied her cousin on one of the many pathways that snaked through the forest while Valdara drifted down the same way in the opposite direction, alone.
"Hey, Valdara, where are you going?" Amber yelled as she went to lead her back by the hand.
"I did not think that you wished for me to join you." Valdara answered.
"What would give you that idea?" Amber asked.
"Your my little half sister, extra terrible or not." Amber told her before the two of them broke into a laugh.
"Robert, are you awake?" Valakadria asked as she stepped lightly into his room.
"For you, yes I'm awake, but don't press your luck because I'm really bushed." he answered her as he pulled the covers back to let her lay down beside him.
"I'm in worse shape for rest and relaxation than I thought that I was." he added as she snuggled up next to him.
"Robert, I know how tired you are." Valakadria replied as he slipped his arms around her.
"Tell me what you know about this wild Buckingham creature that you are acquainted with back on planet Earth?" Valakadria asked as she lay in Robert Jackson's arms.
"Wow, don't tell me that you've had a run in with Tori Buckingham, Val?" Robert asked as he pulled the sheet up and over her shoulders.
"Not exactly." Valakadria answered as she slipped her arms around Robert as well.
"Val, it's best to stay on Tori's good side," Robert Jackson said quiet seriously." And please dear friend, believe me when I tell you, that Victoria Dawn Buckingham does have a good side."
"So, what's with this earthling female that has everybody running to give her aid?" Valakadria sighed.
"My goodness, Val, where were you when she got into a fight with Captain Celane and myself?" Robert Jackkson boomed. "Oh yes, that's right, you were aboard your ship, please forgive me."
"Buckingham ... fought ... with Sathrana?" Valakadria asked in deep thought as she glanced up and gazed into Robert Jackson's face.
"She smacked me a good one while I was in my ready room too ." he explained to her as he glanced down and gazed in to her eyes.
"The witch hit you as well?" Valakadria asked, just to make sure that she had heard right.
"Valakadria, you have no knowledge what so ever, in that cute little raven-haired head of yours about Tori Dawn Buckingham, but I'll tell you this," Robert thought a second before continuing.
"If I were lost in space, and Tori was with me, I would feel safe and secure in my greatest time of need because she would be there at my side, win, loose or draw."
"No doubt." Doctor Henderson said unexpectedly, as she came in on the two of them unawares.
"Barbara, I'm having a private conversation with Val at this time, so if you don't mind leav---
"Robert, if the two of you don't get some sleep then I will have the two of you separated by force," Henderson told the two of them as she turned to exit the room. "Private conversation or not."
"Understood, Doctor." Jackson replied before she left.
"Sleep Val." he commanded and looked down to find that she had drifted off already.
"I'm telling you Doc, that all I remember is telling Valakadria that we ought to be getting to sleep right before you left, and now your telling us that we need to be getting up." Jackson said as he threw his legs out of bed first.
"The night goes by fast, Admiral." Henderson told him as Valakadria Tawn sat up in bed.
"It had better not be the morning of the next day!" Jackson thundered, and the doctor shook her head yes.
"Oh my!" he replied.
"I feel much better, thank you Doctor Henderson." Valakadria said as she got up and out of the bed and stretched.
"We've got to reach the fleet sometime today," Jackson replied as he to stood up and stretched.
"You know, it's against rules and regulations that patients share the same bed together, but ..." said Henderson, cutting herself short.
"But what Doctor Henderson?" Valakadria asked.
"I don't know." she answered. "It just seemed like proper therapy at the time"
"Doc, are you going to release us now, so that we can return to duty?" Jackson asked.
"Yes, get out of here, and Robert, I do believe that this belongs to you." Henderson said handing him his transcribe.
"What's this?" he asked as he read it.
"If you do as I've prescribed then you'll slowly return to your old, sorry, new self," she told him as she exited the room.
"Care to join me and whoever else shows up for breakfast at the Round Forest River Galley?" Jackson asked Commodora Tawn.
"Sure, let me find Keletivia." she answered as the two of them prepared to leave the med-bay.
Robert Jackson found Eric, Amber, Valdara and Davrina and they all headed for breakfast at the Round Forest River Galley. They picked up Rhea and Sabrina Warner along the way. They were also joined by others who were slowly making their trek to the forest floor and down the pathway that led them to their favorite place to eat on the ship. There were other places to eat, but this particular galley was their pick, just as was the one makeshift briefing room on forward view deck pylon A that attached to the outer three mile long engine nacelle, their favorite place to meet while in planetary orbit. Today they were not in planetary orbit and at near and above light speed the view decks were closed tight and sealed shut.
"Admiral Jackson, Commodora Tawn, i hope that the two of you rested well." the president of the Consortium, and former admiral and captain of the Orion, Davadra Adriakar said, as she walked over and prepared to take a seat next to the present admiral and former captain of the Orion, Robert Jackson, as both he and Valakadria Tawn sat at the officers table.
"As a matter of fact, I feel almost as good as new, thank you for asking, Davadra." the admiral replied as he stood up and held her chair for her before she sat down.
"Yes, I felt as if I had slept in the arms of an old friend that I have missed for the past thirteen years." Commodora Valakadria Tawn said carelessly as she took her seat, watching as Robert Jackson's face turned a crimson red.
"The Orion has that effect on me as well." said Doctor Barbara Henderson as she took her seat, having noticed Robert's face also, along with a few of the others that sat or stood nearby.
"Was it with my father, Valakadria?" Amber Jackson asked before she burst into laughter along with Eric, Summer, and a few of the other younger crew members.
"Amber, that's not a very nice thing to ask of our guest!" Counselor Davrina Adriakar said heatedly as everyone within earshot of the table had heard.
"Counselor, Amber asked a question in, as you call it, fun, but, I will answer her question in, as I call it, the truth," said Commodora Tawn as the admiral gave her a death stare.
"Thirteen years have passed since we were parted, and with those passing years, we have all grown older, if not the wiser." Valakadria said as ears tuned in to her every word.
"I was thirty earthen standard years of age old when Commander David Jackson fought with, and apprehended, me seventeen years ago. By this time I had been away from my home world of Zaleena for six hundred and twenty eight earthen standard years. I was in suspended animation for six hundred and twenty two of those years." she explained as they all sat and listened, especially Tori Dawn Buckingham.
"Today, seventeen years later, I am forty-six earthen standard years of age old, though however, I have now been on the run, and away from my own home world, for six hundred and forty five years." she continued as a single tear rolled down her cheek.
"Amber, your father and I were sworn enemies before we ever met, and for a short time thereafter." she said as Amber tuned in on every word.
"For six months your father lay in med-bay on this very ship, recovering from a near fatal wound that I had inflicted upon him, indirectly. For those same six months I lay in a cell in the brig, on this very ship, suffering and hovering at the brink of a death that I would have welcomed with very weak and fragile arms." she further explained.
If not for the one, that I came here seventeen years ago to destroy, then I would not be here to tell you, and you would not be here to listen, so, I tell you the truth, yes Amber, it was your father that I've missed for the past thirteen years." Valakadria told Amber Jackson as the tears flowed like twin water falls from her eyes, while she shoved her chair back and arose and ran from the table and the galley, only to run right smack into Commander David Jackson who had been standing there, listening to every single word that issued from the Zaleen Commodora's mouth.